Tallinn University of Technology

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is also referred as Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APEL).

The aim of RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) is to develop connections between lifelong learning and different levels of study, as well as with the labour market. APEL is based on the substantial compatibility of the previously acquired knowledge, skills and experiences. APEL is a possibility to recognize prior learning (incl. continuing education) and professional work experience for completing curriculum.

There are three parties in the APEL procedure:

APPLICANT - ADVISER - ASSESSOR

Opportunities

APEL makes it possible to consider as a part of a programme

  • prior studies in educational institutions

  • knowledge and skills acquired through in-service training or independent studies

  • knowledge and skills acquires through professional and other experience

APEL can be used

  • in fulfilling admission requirements

  • in continuing unfinished studies

  • as part of studies

  • in changing the curriculum

Starting from 01.08.2020 the credit points taken into account through accreditation of prior and experiential learning, including continuing education courses, shall be counted towards completion of a study load.

What is assessed?

  • not the experience itself, but what has been learned from it;

  • knowledge, skills, competence, including the ability to generalise and apply the knowledge;

  • correspondence to the subject, module curriculum goals and learning outcomes or professional standards;

  • the ability to cope at specified level

What is most significant is how the content of prior knowledge or skills corresponds to the objectives of the programme or subject.

Regulation of APEL

Established by Regulation No 7 of 22 October 2019 of the Senate of Tallinn University of Technology (entry into force 01.08.2020)

In force from: 01.08.2020

Rules for Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning

This Regulation is established on the basis of clause 5 (3) 1) of the Tallinn University of Technology Act.

§ 1. General provisions
(1) These Rules apply to the terms and conditions and procedure for accreditation of prior and experiential learning (hereinafter referred to as “APEL”) at Tallinn University of Technology (hereinafter referred to as "TalTech" or "the university").
(2) APEL is applied at the university:
1) for completion of a study programme in an unlimited volume, except in the cases specified in subsection (3);
2) for compliance with the admission requirements.
(3) APEL cannot be applied:
1) for passing a final examination or defending a graduation thesis;
2) to a part of a course which is accredited by agreement between the student and the lecturer of the relevant course;
3) to internship, which shall be accredited according to the internship guide.
(4) The goal of APEL is to:
1) value the competence of a person and provide equal opportunities for assessing and acknowledging it, regardless of the time, place and manner of acquiring the knowledge and skills;
2) increase educational and professional mobility of persons, including persons with special needs, and enhance opportunities for life-long learning;
3) enable recognition of outcomes of studying in the educational system consisting of cycles (formal education), other organised study activities (non-formal education) and learning through professional experience and during everyday activities and during leisure time (informal education) equally to compliance with the admission requirements or with learning outcomes achieved by completing a study programme;
4) enable the university to respond flexibly to changes in the labour market and change of labour needs.
(5) In addition to passing a final examination or defending a graduation thesis, the dean has the right to give an order determining the courses in the study programme to which APEL cannot be applied.
(6) Once the student has declared a course in the study information system ÕIS, passing of the declared course cannot be claimed for based on experiential, continuing education or other learning acquired before declaration.

§ 2. Providing advice and carrying out assessment
(1) A person applying for APEL receives general information on application of APEL from the specialist of the Office of Academic Affairs.
(2) Advice on APEL in a School is provided by a person/persons appointed by the dean (hereinafter referred to as "APEL adviser") and assessment in a School is carried out by a person/persons appointed by the dean (hereinafter referred to as "APEL assessor"). In cases specified in subsections 4 (7) and (8) of the Rules the dean shall establish a committee for APEL assessment.
(3) The Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs shall establish an APEL Advisory Committee comprising representatives of the Schools, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Open University and students. The student representative to the APEL Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Student Union.
(4) The APEL Advisory Committee is responsible for ensuring a uniform level of implementation of APEL, deciding on general issues related to APEL, analysing the cases related to APEL and making proposals for amendment of the Rules.

§ 3. Submitting and processing of applications for completion of a study programme
(1) An applicant can apply for the recognition of learning gained from formal education courses, continuing education or professional experience in order to complete a study programme in compliance with the submitted application.
(2) An APEL application (hereinafter referred to as "application") shall include:
1) the applicant's personal data;
2) the list of the subjects included in the application and the data indicating compliance with the learning outcomes of the course;
3) evidence.
(3) A student shall submit an application in the study information system ÕIS. A person who is not a student shall fill in and sign an application available on the TalTech website under APEL and send the application to an APEL adviser of the School.
(4) Documents and materials that can be used as evidence include:
1) a diploma, a certificate or other documents certifying prior studies, including a continuing education course;
2) a self-analysis and other relevant evidence of learning from professional work experience or daily and leisure activities (a job description, a directive on appointment to office, a professional certificate, a portfolio or reference to work completed, etc.).
(5) The applicant shall be liable for the veracity of documents and other materials submitted by him/her.
(6) Paper documents certifying formal education shall be submitted to the dean's office in the form of original documents. An employee of the dean's office has the right to request an assessment of qualifications acquired abroad from the ENIC/NARIC centre.
(7) A fee is charged for the review and assessment of applications. Payment shall be made on the basis of an invoice. The rates and payment procedure of APEL fees shall be established by the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs.
(8) An invoice shall be submitted to the applicant based on his/her application. Upon receipt of the fee in TalTech's bank account, the APEL advisor will forward the application to the APEL assessor. If the invoice is not paid by the due date, the application will not be processed and will be rejected.
(9) An APEL assessor shall review the application and make an assessment decision within 30 calendar days. The APEL assessor has the right to ask the applicant to pass a test, an assessment or an examination or to submit additional documents or to have an interview, if necessary. The period designated for making the assessment decision shall be extended according to the time spent on additional operations. Both in case of approval or rejection of an application, the APEL assessor shall include the reasons of his or her decision in the application. The APEL adviser shall mark a positive assessment decision made based on a student's application in the study information system ÕIS as completion of the study programme. An applicant, who is not a student, shall receive the assessment decision in writing.
(10) The courses that have received a positive decision based on an application submitted before 30 November in the autumn semester and before 30 April in the spring semester are counted toward completion of a study programme in the current semester. These deadlines do not apply to courses taken during a semester as a visiting student or while studying abroad.
(11) The APEL adviser shall:
1) check the submitted application and asks the applicant to supplement the application if necessary;
2) submit an invoice and check payment of the invoice;
3) forward a duly completed application to the assessor;
4) approve and register a student’s APEL application in ÕIS if the application is partially or fully approved. The assessment decision is available to the student in the study information system ÕIS. If the applicant is not a student, the APEL adviser shall formalise the assessment decision and forward it to the applicant within 14 calendar days as of making the decision. The assessment decision applies until the study programme version underlying the application is taught. If the applicant submits the assessment decision to the APEL adviser of the corresponding School upon matriculation, completion of the study programme shall be recorded in the study information system ÕIS based on the assessment decision. 

§ 4. General principles of assessment upon completion of a study programme
(1) When applying for the recognition of learning gained from prior formal education, the suitability of acquired learning outcomes for completing the study programme shall be assessed. If the decision is positive, the original performance shall be recorded in the student’s results. If the assessment system of the other educational institution differs from the assessment system valid at TalTech, pass/fail assessment shall be used, marking a positive result as “passed”. In case of accreditation of learning gained from formal education abroad, the positive result is marked as “passed”. The Office of Academic Affairs shall enter the courses passed outside TalTech in the non-TalTech courses register and link them to the corresponding institution of higher education. If the institution of higher education is in a foreign country, the country shall be specified in the study information system ÕIS. If the date of performance is not specified in the document annexed to the application, the date of transfer of the learning results shall be deemed as the date of performance.
(2) When claiming for learning from continuing education or professional experience to be awarded towards completion of a study programme, compliance of the knowledge acquired with the courses suitable for completion of the study programme shall be assessed. If the decision is positive, the course suitable for completing the study programme shall be recorded in the student’s results. Single courses passed in continuing education can be counted separately or the continuing education programme can be counted as a whole towards completion of a study programme. Learning gained from work experience can be used for completing a study programme in the corresponding course. The result of the assessment shall be marked as “passed”, using pass/fail assessment. The date of transfer shall be
marked as the date.
(3) When claiming for learning from continuing education to be awarded towards completion of a doctoral study programme, which does not include a course corresponding to the learning, compliance of the knowledge acquired in the courses with the learning outcomes of the study programme or its module shall be assessed. The learning outcomes acquired at a training must be approved by both the PhD student's supervisor and the programme director before attending the training. If the PhD student's supervisor and the programme director are the same person, the learning outcomes acquired at the training must be approved also by the dean. The volume, content and goal of the training must be clearly evidenced by the PhD student. The volume of the course must be expressed in ECTS credit points or it must be possible to convert it into ECTS credit points. If the decision is positive, original performance shall be recorded in the student’s results; the positive result is marked as “passed”.
(4) In case of an application for a combination of APEL, it is possible to accredit courses passed in formal education and continuing education or learning gained from professional experience. It must be verified that the contents of prior learning corresponds to the learning outcomes of the course suitable for completing the study programme. If the assessment decision is positive, the course included in the study programme shall be recorded in the student’s results. The result of the assessment shall be marked as “passed”, using pass/fail assessment. The date of transfer shall be marked as the date.
(5) When applying for accreditation of learning gained from continuing education, professional experience or from combination of different types of APEL in order to complete a free choice courses module, compliance with the courses included in the course listing shall be assessed. The name of the APEL assessor is displayed in the study information system ÕIS.
(6) If necessary, the APEL assessor may involve an academic staff member in the relevant field in the assessment process. In this case, the name and opinion of the lecturer who provided the assessment shall also be marked in the application.
(7) APEL assessment shall be organised by the APEL assessment committee established by the dean and including a representative of the Office of Academic Affairs, if completion of more than 50% of the volume of a bachelor’s, professional higher education, integrated or master’s study programme is
applied for by accreditation of learning from professional experience, independent studies or continuing education or by combined APEL.
(8) APEL assessment shall be organised by the APEL assessment committee established by the dean and including a representative of the Research Administration Office, if completion of more than 50% of the volume of a doctoral study programme is applied for by accreditation of learning from professional experience, independent studies or continuing education or by combined APEL.
(9) Courses in the volume exceeding the maximum established in the study programme can be recorded in the student's results based on an APEL application if:
1) the courses are taken as an exchange student at a higher education institution abroad;
2) the courses have been passed previously in TalTech.
(10) The way the assessment decision was developed must clearly and unambiguously become evident from the documents used for making the decision. An assessment decision shall be made based on the compliance of the applicant’s knowledge and skills with the learning outcomes of a course or module.

§ 5. Applying APEL for compliance with the admission requirements upon applying for master’s studies
(1) An APEL application (hereinafter referred to as "application") shall include:
1) the applicant's personal data;
2) data on acquisition of the required prior professional knowledge;
3) evidence.
(2) For accreditation of prior and experiential learning, applicants who do not meet the requirements for admission to a master's program shall submit a standard application to the School's APEL adviser no later than on 10 June of the current admission period. With the approval of the dean, an exception can be made so that it is possible to submit documents until the end of the admission period.
(3) APEL assessment shall be carried out as follows:
1) An APEL assessor shall review the application and make a decision within 14 calendar days. The APEL assessor has a right to ask the applicant to pass a test, an assessment or an examination or to submit additional documents or to have an interview, if necessary;
2) An APEL assessor shall declare that the results of prior learning either meet or do not meet the requirements for applying for a master’s programme;
3) If the results of prior learning do not meet the requirements set for applying for the desired study programme, the APEL assessor shall, at the request of the applicant, determine which courses have to be passed before application;
4) The assessment decision is issued to the applicant from the dean's office of the School.

§ 6. Contesting
(1) Decisions arising from implementation of APEL may be contested pursuant to the procedure provided for in the Academic Policies.

§ 7. Implementation of the Regulation
(1) The Regulation No 4 of the Senate of Tallinn University of Technology of 21.03.2017 “The Procedure and Terms and Conditions for Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning” is repealed.
(2) This Regulation shall enter into force on 1 August 2020.

APEL fees

Approved by order No 136 of 30 October 2019 of the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs (entry into force 01.08.2020)

In force from: 01.08.2020

Approval of the rates of fees for accreditation of prior and experiential learning

Based on subsection 3 (7) of Regulation No 7 of 22 October 2019 of the Senate of Tallinn University of Technology “The Rules for Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning”,
1. I approve the following fee for the review of applications for accreditation of prior and experiential learning (hereinafter referred to as "APEL"): 15 euros per an application submitted.
2. I approve fees for the assessment of APEL for completion of a study programme based on ECTS credit points as follows:
2.1 upon applying for accreditation of learning or continuing education in the amount of up to 30 ECTS credit points (inclusive), the fee is 12 euros for 1 ECTS credit point.
2.2 upon applying for accreditation of learning or continuing education in the amount of 31 ECTS credit points or more, the fee is 360 euros regardless of the number of ECTS credit points;
2.3 upon applying for accreditation of experiential learning, the fee is 30 euros for 1 ECTS credit point;
2.4 upon applying for accreditation of a combination of prior learning, continued education or experiential learning, the fee is 20 euros for 1 ECTS credit point.
3. In compliance with clause 2 and based on the number of the ECTS credit points of the course in a study programme of Tallinn University of Technology, for the completion of which the applicant wants to use APEL, an invoice is prepared and submitted to the student for payment.
4. A fee is not charged for the review and assessment of APEL applications from students studying for free, incl. students who have been granted a tuition fee waiver scholarship, if:
4.1 it has been so agreed in a partnership agreement for joint studies signed between the higher education institutions (studying as a visiting student);
4.2 the student has previously agreed in writing with the School on taking the courses in another higher education institution (studying as an exchange student at a higher education institution abroad).
5. A fee is not charged for the review and assessment of an APEL application from a student who pays a semester fee if the student takes courses as an exchange student at a higher education institution abroad based on an agreement signed between the universities and the student has previously agreed with the programme director on taking the courses.
6. Upon applying for accreditation of courses taken previously at Tallinn University of Technology, only the fee per application submitted shall be charged from the student for reviewing the applications.
7. The fees for the review and assessment of an APEL application shall not be charged from applicants of Master’s studies upon assessing whether the applicant meets the admission requirements.
8. The order shall enter into force on 1 August 2020.

    APEL procedure

    Applicant

    • Compare your prior learning with the curriculum you want to complete. If necessary, you can get a transcript of the courses completed at TalTech from the dean's office.

    • Check the learning outcomes of the courses from the study information system ÕIS. The learning outcomes indicate the knowledge and skills, which the person who has completed the course should have acquired.

    • The knowledge and skills acquired must correspond to all the learning outcomes of the course in the curriculum.

    • If you find (a) course(s) in your curriculum, the learning outcomes of which you think you have acquired previously in the framework of a completed course, prior professional experience or continuing education, you can apply for recognition of the course(s) in the framework of APEL.

    • It is paramount that the content of prior learning corresponds to the content of the course in the curriculum!

    Check the courses and learning outcomes of the curricula in the TalTech study information system ois2.ttu.ee.

    In order to provide evidence of professional experience and independent studies you should always write a thorough self-analysis, for which it is recommended to use the STARR method. Read through the Procedure and Terms and Conditions for APEL (incl. about study load, fees, deadlines) before applying.

    For information about APEL contact an APEL adviser, who will explain the procedure of application, the potential bottlenecks and will provide advice on how the prior learning fits into the context of the curriculum.
    APEL contacts

    You can read about the general principles of APEL from the Guide to Applicants.

    • An applicant shall submit an APEL application in the study information system ÕIS (User Guide). 

    • The following evidence shall be attached to the application:

      • prior learning – the diploma supplement, academic transcript, diploma (in case of an educational institution located abroad also the written statement of the Estonian ENIC-NARIC), content descriptions of the courses, learning outcomes;

      • continuing education – course diplomas and certificates, content descriptions, programmes, agendas of the courses, etc.;

      • professional experience – self-analysis of the experience acquired, a job description, certification from the institution, a portfolio, examples of completed works, CV etc.;

      • combined recognition – depending on the specific experience, relevant evidence of knowledge and skills acquired from continuing education and/or formal education courses (see above);

    • Depending on the specific application and experience, other relevant evidence may be added.

    NB! The originals and copies of documents shall be submitted to the application. If necessary, translations of the foreign-language documents shall be submitted. The adviser shall contact the applicant if the application form is filled in incorrectly or the documents are incomplete.
     

    • You can submit an application throughout the academic year.

    • If a fee is charged for assessment of an application, the documents will be forwarded for assessment after the invoice has been paid. See APEL fees

    • The APEL adviser forwards the application, evidence and confirmation of payment of the invoice to the assessor, who shall review the application within 30 calendar days.

    • If necessary, the assessor may request the applicant to submit additional documents, invite the applicant to an interview, request him or her to take a test, etc..

    • It is assessed whether the prior learning corresponds to the learning outcomes of the relevant course(s) of the curriculum. It is important to bear this in mind when writing self-analysis on prior learning. 

    • The applicant will be notified of the assessment decision within 14 calendar days from the date on which the decision is made.

    • If the assessment decision is positive, the adviser shall make the corresponding entry in the student's records in the study information system ÕIS.

    • In case of formal education courses completed previously, the original performance (including the relevant educational institution and credit points) shall be indicated in the study information system ÕIS; it will be later reflected in the academic transcript.

    • In case of accreditation of learning gained from formal education abroad, the positive result is marked as “passed”. 

    • In case of applications concerning continuing education, professional experience and combined recognition, the course in the curriculum shall be indicated in the study information system ÕIS and the result shall be marked as "passed".

    • For the recognition of learning gained from continuing education or professional experience in order to complete an optional study module, you have to find a course with the corresponding learning outcomes from the Taltech course listing.

    • A graduation thesis or final examination cannot be recognised in the framework of APEL.

    • Important! Starting from 01.08.2020 the credit points taken into account through accreditation of prior and experiential learning, including continuing education courses, shall be counted towards completion of a study load.

    • In order to secure a student place, a first or second level student shall, in the first semester of studies, declare and complete courses in his or her curriculum in the amount of at least 15 ECTS credit points. If you have questions, please turn to your Dean's Office.

    Self-Analysis by the STARR method

    If you want learning gained from professional experience to be counted toward completion of a curriculum in the framework of APEL, you must attach self-analysis to the application. Self-analysis may be required also in case of learning gained from continuing education courses and applying for combined recognition. One option is to prepare self-analysis by using the STARR method.

    Recommended: select one relevant example from your professional experience to provide evidence of acquisition of each learning outcome.

    S – situation; the situation, where the experience was gained (the background, parties, location, etc.), e.g. description of the place of work or a particular single case.

    T – tasks; the tasks and roles performed, e.g. position in the organisational structure, responsibilities, tasks performed on a regular basis and the person who assigned the tasks.

    A – activities; the activities and methods (techniques, training, principles for the selection of methods and alternatives).

    R – results; the most important results (the best, but also the most surprising results that made to analyse and alter the actions); who, how, and on the basis of which assessed the results; what was done with the results. It is best if the explanation is provided on the principle "then and now" – the applicant shall distinguish between previous and current results, describe the difference between them and show his or her development.

    R – reflection; the analysis, which indicates the links between the applicant's competencies and the learning outcomes of the course applied for.

    • The analysis shall be a logical conclusion of the previous parts and the evidence provided.

    • Point out the areas what you could learn and develop, what went well, what could have been done differently.

    • The assessor should, by reading the self-analysis and comparing it with the evidence, understand whether you have acquired the required knowledge/skills.

    S (situation) In 2016, from March to June, I participated in an adult education project X.
    T (tasks) One of my tasks was to promote the project and adult education courses, to write a review (attached as evidence) of the courses and to offer the review to be published in media.
    A (activities) I studied thoroughly the relevant legislation, previously published articles on adult education and communication theories and mapped different institutions that provide adult education.
    R (results) The review was published in newspaper Y and in online editions A, B, C and Z.  The project manager and other team members gave positive feedback and I got the assignment to write another article on the same topic.
    R (reflection) When writing the review I learned to search for, collect and systematise relevant information. I used IT tools to analyse the data. I learned the basics of article writing, which I used in the performance of a real assignment. I acquired a completely new skill - how to sell my work. At first we planned to publish the review in two publications, but two more publications expressed interest in the review.

    Frequently asked questions

    Important! Starting from 01.08.2020 (only the applications submitted starting from 01.08.2020)  the credit points taken into account through accreditation of prior and experiential learning, including continuing education courses, shall be counted towards completion of a study load.

    In order to secure a student place, a first or second level student shall, in the first semester of studies, declare and complete courses in his or her curriculum in the amount of at least 15 ECTS credit points. 

    Do I have to pay for submitting an APEL application?

    • In most cases there is a fee for processing the application that is linked to the number credit points you wish to get accredited. Recognising previous studies accomplished at TalTech are free of charge. See more APEL - Fees.

    How many credit points it is possible to get accredited for fulfilling the curriculum?

    • The prior and experiential learning gained outside TalTech may be accredited to the whole extent of the curriculum, except for the graduation thesis or final examination that is to be defended or completed at TalTech. 

    Will my completed credit points become invalid at some point?

    • There is no time limit as such - the credit points you've passed will always be valid. Still in some cases the content of the course might be outdated and then the assessment is carried out case-based.

    Is there a deadline for presenting an APEL application?

    • No, there is no deadline. APEL applications can be submitted through the year. Note! Once the student has declared a course in the study information system ÕIS, passing of the declared course cannot be claimed for based on experiential, continuing education or other learning acquired before declaration.

    • NB! The courses that have received a positive decision based on an application submitted before 30 November in the autumn semester and before 30 April in the spring semester are counted toward completion of a study programme in the current semester. These deadlines do not apply to courses taken during a semester as a visiting student or while studying abroad.

    Which documents have to be enclosed to the APEL application?

    • Documents enclosed depend on what you want to get recognised:

      • in case of previous studies - official transcript and course descriptions;

      • in case of continuing education - certificate of the training or schooling course;

      • in case of work experience - copy of the employment contract, job description, certificate from the workplace, self analysis etc.

    What do I benefit from APEL?

    • Accreditation of prior and experiential learning is a process that might save you time as well as money in completing a degree program. The process reviews learning that may have been mastered through a variety of life experiences, including professional responsibilities, civic and volunteer experiences, military and corporate training, and independent study. Through Prior Learning Assessment, individuals with learning that has been acquired outside of a formal classroom setting have the opportunity to have that learning reviewed for college-level equivalency.

    How does using APEL help me continue my unfinished studies?

    • If you want to complete your unfinished studies at TalTech, the first step is to turn to the dean's office of your former faculty and present an application of readmission. According to the academic calendar readmission of former students is possible twice during an academic year, in the beginning of fall semester and spring semester.

    • APEL means Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning, therefore what you have to do, is compare your knowledge and competences gained from your previous experiences with the corresponding curricum (where you're being readmitted to) with an aim to identify the subjects suitable for being accredited on the basis of APEL. Read more from the APEL procedure guide.
       

    How can I apply APEL for admissions?

    • If applicants prior qualification does not meet the necessary entrance requirements, APEL can be used for replacing these qualifications - e.g. to study IT at master level, a bachelor at IT is required, but if the person has gained the required knowledge and competences elsewhere, for example worked in IT sector for years – he is allowed apply, although he has a bachelor from another field.

    • However according to the legislation in Estonia, a person without a previous level of education do not have access to the next - e.g. it is not possible to apply to bachelor studies without a high school diploma.

    Who are assessing the APEL applications?

    • In most cases the assessment at TalTech is done by the heads of curriculum or leading professors or lecturers, in some faculties and colleges by an APEL committee formed by a group of assessors (occasionally also representatives of employers participate).

    Contact

    vota@taltech.ee
    phone +372 620 3490
    phone +372 620 3530

    You can find your APEL counsellor based on your study programme here.